Asbestos Needs a New Vocation

23 06 2010

There is only so much spin one can infuse to the word toxic. These guys did it with style. The town referred to in the video, Asbestos is home to one of the world’s largest open pit asbestos mine, the Jeffrey Mine. With asbestos being banned in many countries over the important health risks associated to exposure, the town of Asbestos has tried to diversify its economy away from mining but has struggled to find other viable alternatives.

The last business venture of importance for the town of Asbestos was Métallurgie Magnola, a subsidiary of Noranda, produced magnesium from the asbestos mine tailings. The plant has been in operation from 2000 to 2003 and was never profitable throughout this period. The very rapid increase in production capacity in China, unforeseen during the planning of the project, lowered magnesium prices below the plant’s production costs.

After failed attempts to revive Métallurgie Magnola, local stakeholders are now hoping to revive the Jeffrey Mine. It was reported this week that the region had requested a loan from the provincial government to reopen the mine as an underground operation. Since 2004 the mine was under the protection of creditors. I attended a macroeconomic forecasting exercise last spring which stated that the chrysotile industry (that is how it is referred to now) would double in size by 2020. Considering the current size of the industry, tourism may be a more promising avenue.




2 responses

23 06 2010
ZLV- the ex-fex

I believe the workers’ union just agreed a pay cut at the Jeffrey mine, bringing their wages to that of the 1990’s…

Anything to save the mine and their small community I guess…

25 01 2011
Brighter and Shinier Future for Asbestos? « Just Digging: a Mining and Metals blog

[…] that is. I told you about the town’s struggle to revive its asbestos industry this summer when an Australian TV show sought to brand it as a lovely touristic destination. The provincial government is considering providing a guarantee for a CAD $58 million loan to a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: